Washington, D.C. | May 23, 2018—A delegation from the country of Georgia visited the National Whistleblower Center on Wednesday morning to learn about whistleblower laws and their implementation in the U.S. The goal of the visit was to share whistleblower best-practices and lessons-learned that might be applied in Georgia. Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen Kohn, and Legal Fellow Maya Efrati presented to the group.
The delegation included officials from the Georgian Ministry of Justice, Civil Service Bureau, Office of the Chief Prosecutor, Asset Declaration Monitoring Department, and the Office of the Public Defender. Two translators were also present to facilitate the discussion.
Kohn and Efrati explained how the system of whistleblowing works in the United States from a legal perspective, and how restitutions benefit the taxpayer, government, and community. A dated misconception of the whistleblower is that they “leak” inside information from the companies they are working for. In reality, whistleblowers are a valued inside source that help attorneys and government officials detect fraud and corruption. And in the United States, monetary incentives have made whistleblower laws even more effective.
“In Europe, the discussion is still centered on protection,” Kohn said, “but not incentives.”
Incentivizing whistleblowers, Kohn said, is the future of whistleblowing, and it is the direction in which we need to shift the policy conversation. “Financial incentive make blowing the whistle practical,” Kohn said.
Afterwards, questions such as “what happens if there is no money to restitute the victim?” and “what are the whistleblower laws like, if there are any, in the U.K., Canada, Great Britain, and Germany?” were asked, sparking a lively conversation amongst Kohn, Efrati, and the visitors.
Near the end of the discussion, Kohn offered a recommendation to the five delegates. Kohn told them to start small, and modify specific parts of Georgia’s whistleblower laws to include reward provisions. Kohn said a strategy like this could be a building block for future whistleblower laws and lead to increased protections and motivation for whistleblowers to come forward in their native Georgia.
Each visitor received a copy of The New Whistleblower’s Handbook, written by Kohn. The book is the how-to guide on all-things-whistleblower, and Kohn signed several copies at the end of the presentation.
Foreign countries coming to the U.S. to learn about our whistleblowing laws is not a new trend, Kohn explained. In fact, he thinks more should do the same. “Whistleblowers are the number one source of fraud detection,” Kohn said. “Other countries should also work to protect and incentivize whistleblowers.”